Mizelle earns Female Athlete of the Year honors

Published 11:23 am Monday, August 2, 2010

She’s been the face of Bertie High School softball during her entire four-year career.

As a freshman and junior, Jody Mizelle helped lead her team to Northeastern Coastal Conference championships.

In the process, she won over 50 games in her high school career and was named All-Conference four times.

It’s not just the sports at which she comes natural that she excels, however.

When Mizelle entered Bertie High School as a freshman, she had never played tennis competitively.

She still gave the sport a shot and earned the top seed in singles as a junior and was named three times to the All-Northeastern Coastal Conference team. “Jody’s an athlete,” said Jackie Copeland, who coached Mizelle in both tennis and softball at Bertie.

“She didn’t know much about tennis, but she came out and worked hard to learn it. She proved she belonged on that court.”

During her sophomore season, Mizelle teamed with Courtney Dunlow to form a doubles team that rarely lost inside the Northeastern Coastal Conference.

The duo posted a 9-4 overall record and finished second in the number one doubles bracket in the conference tournament. After the season was over, the coaches of the league tabbed both of them All-Conference for their hard work.

In her junior year, Mizelle earned the top seed in tennis and played there most of the season.

She was again honored as All-Conference following that campaign.

This year, Mizelle was firmly the top-seeded player on the Bertie High School tennis team and that afforded her some tough matches.

Despite that, she finished with an excellent record.

Her work on the tennis court landed Mizelle a spot on the All-Roanoke-Chowan Team last fall and led to her being named All-Northeastern Coastal Conference. “Jody’s senior season in tennis was something she should be proud of,” Copeland said.

“She worked hard, learned the game even better and played at a high level all season.”

While she has worked hard to master her tennis skills, it was her prowess on the softball field that earned her the most praise.

In her senior season, Mizelle was tabbed All-Roanoke-Chowan and also was tabbed as the region’s Player of the Year.

“She was the tie in the knot that kept our team together,” Copeland said. “We faced a lot of adversity due to injuries, but Jody was a leader through it all.

She and her teammates worked so hard to keep us in the playoff hunt and helped us reach the goal of playing in the 2-A playoffs.”

The coach said Mizelle had grown from a quiet person to a team leader during her four seasons at Bertie. “Jody was such a leader,” Copeland stressed.

“She was in the leadoff spot for us and when she got on base, which was often, the whole mood of the team changed.

Everyone else knew we were in for a good day.” Mizelle played shortstop for four seasons at Bertie High and improved every season.

Her expert play led to her being awarded a scholarship to Lenoir-Rhyne College where she will play next fall.

“I like the success of the softball program and I’m excited to be a part of it next year,” she said upon signing a National Letter of Intent.

The numbers that led to her receiving the opportunity to play were staggering.

She hit .608 in her senior season, including eight homeruns, 12 triples and 10 doubles.

Her on-base percentage was .643 and she stole 16 bases despite being plagued by an injury.

She also recorded 23 RBIs despite hitting in the leadoff spot. One of the top statistics, however, was the fact that she struck out only once during the entire season.

“Jody came to Bertie High School with all the potential in the world,” Copeland said.

“She is now a mature young lady who has grown in both attitude and ability.

I couldn’t be more proud of her.” Bertie High School Athletic Director Marvin Rankins said the school’s overall athletic program was better because of Mizelle. “She was a spark plug, just one of those unforgettable people,” he said.

“She meant a lot to our program. She brought a lot of recognition to Bertie High School.

“You can’t find a better student, a better athlete or a better person than Jody Mizelle,” he said.

“There’s nothing but positive things to say about her.” It is because of that hard work, effort and success that Jody Mizelle has been selected as the 2010 Kathryn Vick Female Athlete of the Year. Runner-Up This year’s runner-up is Emily Cooke of Ridgecroft School.

During her senior season, Cooke was named to All-Roanoke-Chowan teams in volleyball, basketball and softball.

In addition she was named Best Offensive Player in Softball. Cooke was named All-Tarheel Independent Conference in all three sports as well.

Others receiving recognition Others who were awarded votes for the honor included Ya’Shonti Bridgers of Bertie High School, Tayler Smith of Ridgecroft School, Ashtyn Mizelle of Lawrence Academy and Jaleesa Chinn of Hertford County High School.

About the Award The Kathryn Vick Female Athlete of the Year Award is given annually by the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald for the female athlete that had the most successful year and demonstrated a positive attitude towards teammates, coaches and opponents.

It is named in honor of the newspaper’s first Female Athlete of the Year. Vick was selected Female Athlete of the Year after being selected MVP in volleyball, basketball and softball at Ridgecroft School following her senior campaign.